Saturday 23rd July 2022
PARASHAT PINCHAS Herschel
Numbers 25:10-29:40; 1 Kings 18:46-19:21; John 2:13-25
Last Shabbat, our Torah portion ended with the sin of Peor. If you recall, Balak, the king of Moab, was exceedingly fearful of Israel because of their numerical superiority and because they had just defeated the mighty Amorite kings, Og and Sihon.
So, Balak hired a well-known heathen seer, Bila’am, to curse Israel but God prevented this. However, Balak did not give up. If he could not defeat Israel military or through demonic intervention, there was another possibility. Seduce the Israelite men into committing adultery with the beautiful Moabite women. They would inevitably succumb to the lusts of the eyes and of the flesh. Then, their God would punish them!
1 Now Israel remained (yashav - יָשַׁב ) in Acacia Grove, and the people began
to commit harlotry with the women of Moab.
2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and
bowed down to their gods.
3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused
The Hebrew word for ‘remained’, yashav, is found also in Genesis 37:1, where we read that Jacob ‘settled’ or ‘’lived in the land of his fathers. Yashav infers ‘to rest’, but it can also infer ‘to be idle’. In the case of Jacob, the rabbis point out that after all the difficulties he had faced (working 14 years for his two wives, after being deceived by his uncle). Also, there was the mistrust among his sons. All Jacob wanted to do is cease from struggles and striving, and settle down and enjoy life with his growing family.
But his kingdom work was not yet over and this was not the time to rest. God still had to get him down to Egypt, so that Hosea 11:1 could be fulfilled: “for out of Egypt, I called forth my son”.
What we can take from this is that there is nothing inherently wrong with a season of rest, as long as we do not succumb to idleness. Rest and idleness of at either end of a spectrum. In this world, we ought to be about our Father’s work. Furthermore, true rest and shalom in our reward in olam haba, the world to come.
But, more importantly, on this side of eternity, we can never let our guard down. We need to remain alert and mindful. This reminded me of King David and the sin of Bethsheba.
2 Samuel 11:1-4
Now it came to pass at the turn of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his officials with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the children of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed (yashav) in Jerusalem. One evening David rose from his bed and strolled on the roof of the royal palace. Then from the roof he saw a woman washing—a very beautiful woman. So David sent someone to inquire about the woman, and he reported, "Isn't this Bath-sheba, daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers and took her when she came to him, and he lay with her.
King David should have gone out to war but he sent others out in his place. And, because he was idle, he fell for Bathsheba beauty and the outcome was predictable. This indiscretion – gazing upon her and desiring her - had terrible repercussions including adultery and murder. What we can learn from this is not to allow a trapdoor to sin to be opened. Once you taste the seductive fruits of sin, it is a lot easily to fall into that trap again. There is less resistance and one’s conscience becomes incrementally hardened.
Like David, the Israelites let down their guard and gazed for far too long as the attractive and seductive women, and because of the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh, sin was conceived in their hearts which directly resulted in the sin of adultery.
As Messiah’s servants, we are instructed to adopt a posture of alertness and vigilance at all times, because the adversary desires nothing more btu to draw us into compromise and to succumb to sin.
33 Be on guard bokeep awake (another translation says “watch and pray”).
For you do not know when the time will come.
34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his
Servants in charge each with his work, and commands buthe
doorkeeper to stay awake.
35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house
will come bwin the evening, or bxat midnight, or bywhen the rooster
crows ▼ or cain the morning —
36 lest cbhe come suddenly and ccfind you asleep.
37 And what I say to you I say to all: cdStay awake.”
Notice the attitude and posture that Yeshua counsels us to adopt so that we will be able to stand in the midst of the troubles that will increase in severity in the days ahead.
Be on guard – ‘be alert, be attentive, to exercise sight, to have eyes to see’
Keep awake - ‘to be watchful, to be vigilant’.
I firmly believe that this ought to be our posture today! We are already living in troubled times where good is called evil, and evil, good, where the truths expounded in the bible are offensive to many. Secular humanism has taken such a hold in the minds and hearts of many with the result that human rights is prioritized rather than the ethical and moral values inculcated in the Bible. We have become so politically correct that we do not dare offend anyone, lest we are accused before the Human Rights Council.
Family, if we cannot apply the ethical truths and values expounded in our scriptures in the here and now, how will we be able to stand in what is yet to come? I believe that HaShem is training and preparing us for what lies ahead. He is training us to be the remnant who will stand firm on the Rock and resist every attempt of the adversary to lead us into fear and compromise.
May you and I be found to be worthy of calling upon the Name that is above every name! May zeal for our Father’s Name and reputation consume us even as it consumed Yeshua, when He drove the moneylenders out of the Temple precincts! May we have the righteous zeal of Pinchas, not to commit murder, but to stand up for the sake of heaven.